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At least, the “science of obesity” is now a legitimate topic of discussion

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Much of what’s going wrong in science today is too much enforcement, too little reasoned argument.

Recently, we ran a note about a dissident science writer, Gary Taubes, and some dissident scientists arguing for a different approach to the causes of obesity. Another well-known science writer, Ross Pomeroy, says he’s wrong:

Taubes isn’t entirely off with his widely-read musings on low-carbohydrate diets. There certainly exists evidence that different nutrients and compounds in the foods we eat alter our metabolisms, but the effects are simply not large enough to drive significant weight loss or weight gain. What fuels weight gain is eating more calories than your body uses. What leads to weight loss is eating fewer calories. That’s what decades-worth of evidence demonstrates.

Taubes argues that if this is true, Americans – who hear the “eat less and move more” messaging constantly – should be getting thinner over time, not fatter. But there’s a simpler explanation: Americans have yet to put this advice into widespread action. Part of the reason might be that they would rather try fad diets like the one that Taubes and many others keep writing so much about.

Ross Pomeroy, “Gary Taubes Can’t Accept He’s Wrong About the Science of Obesity” at RealClearScience (September 17, 2021)

Fair comment. And it is a good thing we get to hear both sides of the argument. That is not happening often enough. People who complain about popular doubt or denial of science are too often among the first to demand that only their side of the argument be published — thus fueling the very thing they complain about.

Obesity is a serious business because — thanks to a successful war on hunger — it is becoming a worldwide problem. Jenny Craig probably doesn’t have the answer. 😉

You may also wish to read: At Stat News: Science has got obesity all wrong A science writer reflects on the way paradigms work. If he’s right, a popular paradigm it was dangerous to doubt will come under fire.

4 Replies to “At least, the “science of obesity” is now a legitimate topic of discussion

  1. 1
    Querius says:

    The problem with the calories in/calories out approach is that it ignores the 30-40% drop in basal metabolism under caloric restriction and the impact of calories from sugar.

    Not all calories are the same. For example, calories from fructose and alcohol have the same metabolic pathway, but calories from fats and protein are different. This is called nutritional biochemistry. According to endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, MD,

    What the data says is
    – Some calories cause more disease than others
    – Different calories are metabolized differently
    – A calorie is not a calorie (i.e. they’re not all identical)

    “Robert H. Lustig, M.D., M.S.L. is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He specialises in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. His research and clinical practice has focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr. Lustig holds a Bachelor’s in Science from MIT, a Doctorate in Medicine from Cornell University. Medical College, and a Master’s of Studies in Law from U.C. Hastings College of the Law.”

    -Q

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Here’s a good video presentation by Dr. Lustig. It will cost you an hour of your time, it’s a bit technical, but I think it’s definitely worth your time if you’re interested. He’s pretty thorough and presents some surprising data and conclusions.

    Prof. Robert Lustig – ‘Sugar, metabolic syndrome, and cancer’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpNU72dny2s

    -Q

  3. 3
    anthropic says:

    Lost an hour of sleep, but well worth it, Q. Thanks!

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Anthropic,

    Glad it was of interest to you. I just recently stumbled across this and I wish I’d seen it earlier. What stuns me is how tone deaf the FDA and other health organizations are to scientific progress!

    Dr. Lustig seems to have sterling credentials and is obviously a very intelligent researcher. The problem is that we’re drowning in quackery to the point that real progress in science seems to get lost in all the noise, plus the FDA, NIH, WHO etc. seem to have become primarily political organizations in league with national and commercial interests.

    The epidemics of obesity and diabetes are real and far more deadly than COVID-19. Thus, now that my weight and blood tests are all in the normal range, my skepticism at the medical advice I was given probably saved my life.

    -Q

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